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Activities

50 essential winter activities for families

From making monster gloves to going on a special woodland adventure, have some snowy or cozy fun with our 50 must-try winter activities.

By Jessica Spera
50 essential winter activities for families

Photo: iStockPhoto

50 essential winter activities for the whole family

01Build a snowman

Have a snowman challenge with your family or neighbours. Give out prizes for the most creative and best-looking snow person around.

50 essential winter activities for families

02Catch a parade

Watch the Santa Claus Parade in your town, or attend one of these holiday season events and activities in Toronto. There are even some great parades to celebrate the incoming New Year! Make sure you pack hot chocolate and snacks to stay warm.

50 essential winter activities for families

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03Have a beach day

Can’t go on a vacation? Pretend it’s blazing hot out, put on your bathing suits, shades and some sunny music, and have a beach party. These beach-themed cupcakes are mandatory!

50 essential winter activities for families

04Go tobogganing

Find the best hill around and go tobogganing! Better yet, get a group of friends together and make a party of it. Don’t forget to bring the hot chocolate to warm you all up later.

50 essential winter activities for families

05Have a movie marathon

Have a Nostalgia Movie Marathon. Rent your favourite movies from your childhood, like AnnieMary Poppins or Ghostbusters, and introduce them to your kids. Another option is to have an Everyone’s Favourite Movie Marathon. Each member of the family selects their favourite (PG-appropriate) movie to watch in a day-long marathon. Pass the popcorn! 

50 essential winter activities for families

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06Admire holiday decorations and lights

Some people go all out during the holidays and decorate their house to the nines. Go for a family drive and see if you can find the best house on the block!

50 essential winter activities for families

07Build a fort

If there’s enough snow, take the time to build a snow fort. If you’re looking for something a little warmer, take some pillows and blankets and make your fort in the living room! See who can make the best fort and have a cozy slumber party one night.

50 essential winter activities for families

08Go skating

Go skating or teach the kids to skate. The best part about the winter is that you can find one of many outdoor rinks, and have fun out in the fresh air. Or take a crack at building your own backyard ice rink!

50 essential winter activities for families

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09Make snowman pancakes

If you want to do something a little more hands-on, you and the kids can make yummy, snowman-shaped pancakes! It’s the perfect weekend morning activity! If you’re want to cook up a storm, check out these other satisfying hot winter breakfast ideas.

50 essential winter activities for families

10Warm up around a winter campfire

If your city allows it, set up a backyard fire pit and have a winter campfire, complete with s’mores and scary stories. The sound of the fire crackling is worth it in itself. 

50 essential winter activities for families

11Learn about your family tree

Get the whole family together and learn about your family history. Have the grandparents and relatives tell stories about when they were kids for a fun, family-bonding experience.

50 essential winter activities for families

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12Go on a winter hike

Go on a winter hike in a park or the woods. Collect items you find and glue them to sturdy paper to make a beautiful nature collage. Or take some beautiful snowy pictures. See which animal tracks you can spot around the forest. 

50 essential winter activities for families

13Make a winter wreath

Why not decorate for the season by making your own winter wreath? You can hang it on the front door or over your fireplace! It’s the perfect way to spruce up the house for the holidays (or just because).

50 essential winter activities for families

14Set up a scavenger hunt

Whether you choose to do it inside or out, it makes no difference! Set up a bunch of clues for the kiddos to follow to find the treasure (maybe it leads to another activity on this list). Or, have the kids set up their own scavenger hunts for each other (or you). 

50 essential winter activities for families

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15Play soccer in the snow

Add a snowy twist to your favourite game or sport. Whether it’s soccer, baseball or football, keep warm by running around in the snow. Don’t forget to buy a brightly coloured ball so you don’t lose it!

50 essential winter activities for families

16Play board games

Dig out your dusty pile of board games and challenge each other to Clue, Candy Land or a good ol’ fashioned Checkers tournament.

50 essential winter activities for families

17Go skiing or snow tubing

Hit the slopes with your little ones. If skiing is a little too adventurous for you, try snow tubing (you won’t regret it).

50 essential winter activities for families

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18Bake cookies

Get your friends and neighbours together and host a cookie competition. Everyone makes their favourite recipe, and have the kiddos be the judges. The littles ones could also make little certificates as prizes and hand them out, or they can jump in and help decorate the cookies, too. Check out our 15 cookie exchange recipes to find that winning recipe.

Child making cookies

19Visit a maple syrup farm

Check out our list of maple syrup farms & festivals across the country, and enjoy some maple taffy on the snow or some fresh syrup and pancakes with the entire family.

50 essential winter activities for familiesPhoto: Maya Visnyei

20Throw a fondue party

Host a yummy fondue party! Stuff yourselves with cut fruit dipped in melted chocolate and bread cubes dipped in melted cheese. Don’t feel like entertaining? The kids will also love getting to dip everything during a quiet family dinner.

50 essential winter activities for families

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21Make snow angels

There’s nothing more tempting after a snowfall than jumping onto a fresh slate of snow and making snow angels. See if you can come up with any other kinds of creatures, and just have fun in the snow together.

50 essential winter activities for families

22Make a blizzard snow globe

Use the glittery snow outside as inspiration and get the kids’ creative juices flowing with this wintry blizzard in a jar. Clean out an empty baby food jar and fill with glitz—we suggest teeny beads, glitter and sparkles. Add water and shake it up—the kids will be dazzled by the glitter!

50 essential winter activities for families

23Play hockey

Look up local outdoor arenas or safe ponds and take part in a Canadian tradition: hockey. If the snow isn’t falling quite as much as you’d like, road hockey or ball hockey is just as fun!

50 essential winter activities for families

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24Have a stacking contest

Hold a Guinness-style record-breaking competition. Who can stack the most blocks or plastic cups? Who can balance a book on their head the longest? Get the kids to come up with some fun records to set!

50 essential winter activities for families

25Catch snowflakes

When the snow starts falling, head outside and catch some snowflakes! See who can catch one on their tongue, or put some dark coloured mittens on and see how long it takes for that one perfect flake to melt away. Show the little ones that every snowflake is different and see who can catch the biggest or coolest one—they’ll love it! 

50 essential winter activities for families

26Make a family scrapbook or time capsule

Put treasured mementos such as photos, ticket stubs and postcards in a shoebox or album. Hide it somewhere in the house or in the backyard. If you’re really adventurous, take a drive to your favourite place and hide it there.

50 essential winter activities for families

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27Play dress-up

Want to let your imaginations take over for a while? Play dress up, have a tea party and keep it up for the whole day. Let your little one come up with the theme and just roll with it.

50 essential winter activities for families

28Go to a winter festival

Check out your local holiday events, like the Quebec City Carnival or Icefest in Toronto. For other ideas, check out our holiday events for families from coast to coast.

50 essential winter activities for families

29Host a hot chocolate tasting party

After being outside for hours, have a hot chocolate sampling party. Invite friends over to try dark, peppermint or white hot chocolate. Or you can get creative with flavours like our tasty Maple Hot Chocolate. Top up with whipped cream and sprinkles for the kids. Adults can add some secret Bailey’s, too!

50 essential winter activities for families

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30Make paper snowflakes

Bring the winter wonderland inside by making paper snowflakes! Want to add some colour? Try adding some food colouring for a tie-dye effect or use some construction paper.

50 essential winter activities for families

31Try ice fishing

Find a frozen body of water and try ice fishing this winter! If the thought of frozen water is a little too daunting, you could always set up a little pool in the backyard and use your imaginations. Try this yummy Crispy Baked Fish and Chips recipe with the “fish” you catch…from the grocery store.

50 essential winter activities for families

32Eat finger foods

Prepare all your favourite finger foods (like our Coconut-Crusted Chicken Fingers) put a blanket on the playroom floor and boom: indoor picnic! It makes lunch or dinner so much more exciting.

50 essential winter activities for families

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33Do a good deed

Devote an entire day to doing good deeds. Help out at your local food bank, volunteer to walk dogs at your local animal shelter or shovel an elderly neighbour’s driveway.

50 essential winter activities for families

34Have breakfast for dinner

A great way to switch up a boring old routine is to have breakfast for dinner—the kiddos will be so excited! Start with this yummy recipe: Breakfast Pizza

50 essential winter activities for families

35Have a PJ day

Not feeling like going out in the cold? Enjoy a whole day in your pyjamas (pairs perfectly with having breakfast for dinner!) It’s the perfect time to play your favourite iPad games or to read a new book (or two).

50 essential winter activities for families

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36Go snowshoeing

Are you sick of sinking into the snow while taking a family walk? Try snowshoeing! It leaves such cool tracks in the snow, making a boring, old walk more entertaining.

50 essential winter activities for families

37Take a ride on a horse-drawn carriage

A snowy afternoon is the perfect time to go for a ride on a horse-drawn carriage. Many farms and festivals in your town offer them and the kids will love interacting with the horses. Or maybe it’s time to leave the little ones at home and have a romantic evening instead.

50 essential winter activities for families

38Make your own Christmas tree ornaments

Use some clear, plastic ornaments to get creatively crafty with your kids. Choose a variety of materials, like glow-in-the-dark beads and puffy paint, to make one of these DIY ornaments. Even if Christmas has already passed, you can start crafting for next year’s tree. 

Plastic Christmas ball ornament filled with colourful beads

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39Play pencil and paper games

Take some time away from the screen this winter. Whip out the pencils and paper, and challenge everyone with these popular pencil and paper games.

50 essential winter activities for families

40Get organized

Declare a one-day organization blitz and get your kids to store their things away. Clean out your closets and put unused toys, games and clothes in boxes for donation.

50 essential winter activities for families

41Learn a magic trick

It’s a known fact that most kids love magic. Why not learn a magic trick or two to show and teach them? 

50 essential winter activities for families

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42Make monster gloves

Prepare your little ones for the cold with these awesome monster gloves. They can decorate them however they want using felt, pompoms and googly eyes. 

50 essential winter activities for families

43Start a band

Form an “air band” by lipsynching to your favourite songs and miming playing along with instruments. You can even choreograph your own dance routines if the mood strikes you.

50 essential winter activities for families

44Try to catch the Northern Lights

Drive out to the middle of nowhere at night with some blankets and some warm drinks and see if you can find the Northern Lights. Not able to find them? Stargazing can be just as cool. See what constellations (real or made up) that you can see.

50 essential winter activities for families

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45Dance it out

Get the kids to put on their finest garb and have them put together, and perform, a little routine to their favourite songs. Or just take a dance break in the middle of your daily routine to get the sillies out!

50 essential winter activities for families

46Make a bird feeder

Make a simple homemade bird feeder using pine cones, peanut butter, birdseed and a bit of string. Or, try out this bird feeder craft, then hang them up and spend a lazy afternoon bird watching. See if you can identify which birds come to visit!

DIY bird feeders made out of plastic jugs.

47Teach your kid how to sew or knit

Teach your kids to sew or knit something cool, like a pillow cover, plush toy or scarf. See if they can make some of their winter gear by hand—surely they’ll be excited to show everyone at school what they made.

50 essential winter activities for families

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48Make a stop-motion video

Does your kid love Play-Doh? What about the animated Rudolph movie? Then make a stop-motion video. Use toys, Lego, etc., as the characters in your movie. Take one photo at a time with any simple digital camera. Import your photos into a simple movie maker and shorten photo duration to one second or one frame. Add voiceover and music, and you’re done!

50 essential winter activities for families

49Play bowling with frozen water balloons

Fill water balloons with coloured water, let them freeze, break balloons off and use them for outdoor bowling!

50 essential winter activities for families

50Make a short movie

If stop-motion is too much work or just not your thing, make some memorable home movies with a movie camera or even your cell phone. Catch some precious moments on film and save them for a rainy (or snowy) day. To make things interesting, you can let the little ones be the filmmakers and just let their imaginations run wild!

50 essential winter activities for families

Read more: 30 fun festive activities 20 fun indoor games 10 no-snow winter activities

This article was originally published on Mar 10, 2020

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